Michelle McALISTER

Sr Brand Portfolio Manager | KELLOGG COMPANY

Michelle is a Senior Brand & Marketing professional who has led marketing innovation and brand management for some of the world's most loved brands, including Pop Tarts, Rice Krispies Treats, Groupon, Walgreens, and Lipton. Michelle is known for challenging boundaries and proactively advocating and building for marketing inclusion practices and execution in every organization of which she is a part. She earned a BA in Marketing from Howard University and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Michelle serves as the current President of the Girls on the Run Chicago Associate Board, and is a lover of dark lipstick, sneakers, and prime numbers. 



What was your very first job?
Outside of being a babysitter all through high school, my first job was as a bank teller when I was 18 years old, the summer before I went to undergrad. 


Please describe, in your own words, what your job is and what work it entails.
My job is to truly commit to understanding consumers, designing and innovating product/service solutions for their lives, and reaching them in a way where they see themselves as the main character in the stories I tell. 


How did you discover that the creative world was right for you? Was there a time in your life that you credit to this discovery? Was there a train of events that brought you where you are today?
I am a person who thrives on ideas. Ideas, iterations of ideas, newness, reinvention and reimagination fuel me and give me energy every day. I was the same way as a kid and was always someone who could be caught doing anything from letting my mind run wild with daydreaming, drawing ideas in one of my many oversized sketchbooks, or to trying to bring them to life with anything I could find in my house. Being able to express ideas in a variety of ways has been core to me as a person since I, or my parents, can remember. 


In your constantly growing and expanding industry, how do you find inspiration to keep your work fresh, innovative and relevant?
I am a huge advocate of listening to underrepresented consumers for my inspiration. There is so much to tap into when we consider the lives and experiences of those who don’t represent the majority. Making sure that every person can see themselves reflected positively via marketing and advertising is inspiring and is what keeps me looking for new stories and new ways to tell them. 


If you had to pick one piece of work or project that you are most proud of, more for the creative work and innovation rather than its recognition or industry "success," what would it be?
I believe that Marketing is a social statement - all forms, and all the time. I know that marketing is supposed to drive business results, but I also know that it can drive powerful social results as well. My favorite campaigns are those that intentionally educate and break down barriers, stereotypes, and harmful cultural norms, especially in regards to underrepresented populations as their primary goal. I’ve seen Dove Men, Pantene, Sandy Hook Promise, and many others put heart before profit and tell deeply resonating stories with which people, not just consumers, could truly connect. 


Which creative disciplines do you commission most, and are most interested in seeing more of and why? Which of these disciplines are you most interested in seeing at CONNECTIONS? (ie photo, film, production, social, experiential, vr, cgi, animation etc)

I mostly commission work in the social and photo disciplines, but I am more interested in seeing work in the film and experiential spaces. I love short film and feel that it has such power to tell rich, authentic, and nuanced stories like no other medium can. I also want to see more work in the experiential space. Consumers are, and will be, craving more and more experiences in their lives - especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has altered tour ability to engage with others and our world. Being able to deliver rich experiences across various mediums will become a must-have and much-needed. 


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